Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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COLOSSIANS - Chapter 4

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Colossians 4

Supplemental Commentary:

III.  THE IDEAL CHRISTIAN LIFE IN THE WORLD  3, 5 -- 4, 6 (continued)

3, 22 -- 4, 1:  Slaves and Masters (continued).    4, 1.  Your Master in heaven will deal with you as you deal with your slave, a special application of Matt. 8, 2.  Job (31, 13-15) was a master who kept in mind this rule of final retribution.

4, 2-6:  Prayer and Prudence.    2.  Our Lord's precept of watching, of being at all times spiritually prepared for His Second Coming (Matt. 24, 42-44), can be observed by maintaining a spirit of prayer, keeping our souls turned toward God, especially by thanking Him for His bounty.    3.  Us: as in 2 Thess. 3, 1, St. Paul here uses the plural pronoun in referring to himself.  His only concern is the spread of the gospel; he does not request prayers for his liberation from prison.    4.  Ought: see 1 Cor. 9, 16.    5 f.  All Christians share in the apostolate at least in this that they must give to outsiders the example of a holy life.  Their conversation, flavored with spiritual reflections, must be pleasing and discreet, especially when questions concerning Christian practices are put to them.  See 1 Pet. 3, 15.

Conclusion  4, 7-18

4, 7-9:  Tychicus and Onesimus.    7.  Tychicus was from Asia (Acts 20, 4) and like Trophimus (Acts 21, 29), with whom he is associated, he was probably a native of Ephesus.    9.  Notice that a slave is being recommended on equal terms with a free fellow-Christian.

4, 10-14:  From Paul's Co-workers.    10.  Fellow-prisoner: the same epithet is given to Epaphras in Philem. 23 (and to Andronicus and Junias in Rom. 16, 7).  It can mean that without bearing chains these disciples shared the Apostle's imprisonment.  Mark: this recommendation of the relative of St. Paul's sponsor shows that the difficulties spoken of in Acts 15, 39 and Gal. 2, 13 had been amicably settled.    11.  Jesus . . . Justus: Jesus here and in Luke 3, 29 (like Jason in Acts 17, 6; Rom. 16, 21) is a Greek form of Josue (Acts 7, 45; Heb. 4, 8), a common name among Jews; the surname Justus, the Latin equivalent of Sadoc (Matt. 1, 14), was also given to Joseph Barsabbas (Acts 1, 23) and Titus, St. Paul's host at Corinth (Acts 18, 7).  Some of the Jewish converts at Rome did not support St. Paul.  See Phil. 1, 15-17.    12 f.  Epaphras: see Introduction and 1, 7.  From this passage we learn that he was a Colossian, and can gauge his zeal for the welfare of the churches in the Lycus Valley.  The pastoral solicitude of the disciple was modeled on that of his master (1, 28; 2, 1 f).    14.  Physician: added perhaps to distinguish the Evangelist from other Christians who bore the same or a similar name (Lucius, Acts 13, 1; Rom. 16, 21).  St. Paul was, no doubt, indebted to him for medical care.  See Gal. 4, 13; 2 Cor. 12, 7-9.  Demas: the absence of a note of praise may indicate that he was the scribe who wrote this letter at the Apostle's dictation.  But cf. 2 Tim. 4, 9.

4, 15-18:  A Message for the Laodiceans.    15 f.  Concerning the view that the "Letter of the Laodiceans" is the same as Ephesians see the Introduction to that Epistle.  The exchange of the Apostle's letters between Christian communities and their public reading in the churches (1 Thess. 5, 27) was the first step in their canonization.    17.  These words need not imply that Archippus was slack in the performance of his duty; they may, like 2 Tim. 4, 5, be an encouragement to face difficulties bravely.    18.  Other examples of the Apostle's signature at the end of letters: 2 Thess. 3, 17; 1 Cor. 16, 21; Gal. 6, 11.  The hampering shackles move the prisoner of Christ to repeat his request (4, 3) for the intercession of his readers.  Grace: St. Paul ends, as he began, with a prayer for God's favor.

Maurice A. Hofer

Confraternity Bible:

1 Masters, give your slaves what is just and fair, know that you too have a Master in heaven.

Prayer and Prudence  2 Be assiduous in prayer, being wakeful therein with thanksgiving.  3 At the same time pray for us also, that God may give us an opportunity for the word, to announce the mystery of Christ (for which also I am in chains), 4 that I may openly announce it as I ought to speak.  5 Walk in wisdom as regards outsiders, making the most of your time.  6 Let your speech, while always attractive, be seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each other.

Tychicus and Onesimus  7 All my circumstances Tychicus, our dearest brother and faithful minister and fellow-servant in the Lord, will tell you.  8 Him I have sent to you for this very purpose, that he may learn your circumstances and comfort your hearts.  9 With him is Onesimus, our most dear and faithful brother, who is one of you.  They will tell you all that is going on here.

From Paul's Co-workers  10 Aristarchus, my fellow-prisoner, sends you  greetings; so does Mark, Barnabas' cousin (concerning whom you have received instructions---if he comes to you, welcome him), 11 and Jesus who is called Justus.  Of men circumcised, these only are my fellow-workers in the kingdom of God; they have been a comfort to me.  12 Epaphras, who is one of you, sends you greetings---a servant of Christ Jesus, who is ever solicitous for you in his prayers, that you may remain perfect and completely in accord with all the will of God.  13 Yes, I bear him witness that he labors much for you and for those who are at Laodicea and at Hierapolis.  14 Luke, our most dear physician, and Demas send you greetings.

A Message for the Laodiceans  15 Greetings to the brethren who are at Laodicea and to Nymphas and the church that is in his house.  16 And when this letter has been read among you, see that it be read in the church of the Laodiceans also; and that you yourselves read the letter from Laodicea.  17 And say to Archippus: "Look to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfill it."

18 I, Paul, greet you by my own hand.  Remember my chains.  Grace be with you.  Amen.